Frances Hurt Receives Humanitarian Award

By Susan Worley, Star-Tribune Staff Writer, November 3, 2004.

Martin Hopkins, Frances Hurt, and Robert Hurt

Frances Hallam Hurt of Chatham was the recipient of the Humanitarian Award presented by the Danville Area Disabilities Employment Network. Making the presentation were Martin Hopkins (l) and Del. Robert Hurt (r). (Photograph by Susan Worley.)

Frances Hallam Hurt of Chatham was honored Friday morning with the “2004 Humanitarian Award” presented by the Danville Area Disabilities Employment Network.

It was a surprise for Mrs. Hurt, who attended the awards breakfast at the Carrington Center at DIMON in Danville. The plaque presentation was made by her grandson, Del. Robert Hurt of Chatham.

Mrs. Hurt was praised for her devotion to culture and beautification with efforts to improve the town of Chatham, Pittsylvania County and the nation. She has also worked tirelessly with the Pittsylvania County Literacy Program.

Mrs. Hurt is not a native Pittsylvanian, but was born in the town of Graham in north central Texas.

“Her father was a cotton broker and later in the oil and banking business,” said Martin Hopkins, dormer DADEN vice president who assisted in the presentation.

“It was a strict household which could be a key leading to good citizenship. On Sundays, a long time was spent in the Presbyterian church. In honor of the sabbath, Frances, her brothers and sisters could not read the funny paper or have dessert until after the Sunday meal.

“Our honoree graduated Phi Beta Kappa (from Southern Methodist University) and then set off to seek her fortune in New York City. Her first job was with the Hearst business magazine and then on to the really big time as a reporter for Glamour magazine,” said Hopkins.

After meeting and marrying Southside Virginia native Henry Hurt, they settled in Chatham in 1941.

“For the past 63 years our recipient has given tremendously to not only the county, but all the surrounding area and the state in general,” said Hopkins. “She will not accept ‘no’ or ‘it can't be done’ for an answer.”

She has authored and helped produce stage dramas Land of the Bright Leaf, The Shirtmen and the Quaker, and All Men Shall Be Free.

She has written Eighteenth Century Landmarks of Pittsylvania County and An Intimate History of the American Revolution in Pittsylvania County.

She won the citizenship award for Keep Chatham Beautiful in 1977 and her longstand efforts for beautification were rewarded with the naming of Chatham's town park as Frances Hallam Hurt Park.

She has served on the National Tree Trust board and chaired the Pittsylvania County Literacy Program.

“There is no record of the philanthropic activities of our recipient. Her gifts and contributions are almost always listed as anonymous.

“It was rumored however that the IRS once ordered a tax audit because her contributions to charitable causes were so far out of balance with guidelines for individuals having similar incomes.”

Mrs. Hurt graciously accepted the award and said it is pleasant to be praised for doing the things she loves to do.


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